November 15, 2009

Lee solidifies starting spot in win over Jayhawks

Statistically speaking, Zac Lee didn't do anything to cement himself as Nebraska's starting quarterback in Saturday's 31-17 win over Kansas.

However, his biggest accomplishments in the game really can't be measured in numbers.

Once again, Lee managed the game well enough for the Huskers to get a much-needed victory, as he didn't put huge numbers, but he also didn't make any crucial mistakes against the Jayhawks.

As a result, Nebraska's coaches had nothing but praise for the junior signal caller, as it appears Lee has re-solidified his role as NU's starting quarterback for the rest of the season.

"I thought Zac played a damn good football game," head coach Bo Pelini said. "He was a leader. He gutted it up when he needed to. I thought he made good decisions for the most part. There are a couple of plays, just like any game, that I'm sure he'd like to have back. I thought it was a solid performance by Zac."

Overall, Lee completed 13-of-21 passes for 196 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He also had one of his best games of the year with his feet, rushing nine times for 53 yards, highlighted by a 32-yard scamper.

His one big mistake came on Nebraska's opening drive, as he fumbled when he was hit just before crossing the goal line on an option keeper. The ball bounced into the end zone, and luckily junior running back Roy Helu was there to dive on it and give Nebraska the touchdown.

More than anything, what Lee really did well on Saturday was stretch the field through the air and give some life to an offense desperate for a spark. It was clear the offense was going to try and open up from the game's first snap, as Lee went deep on the first play to junior Niles Paul and connected for a 35-yard bomb down the sideline.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he wanted to give Lee and the offense a chance to make some plays after struggling to do much of anything in the previous five games.

"We knew it was going to be there," Watson said. "We wanted to send a statement. I wanted to send a statement to the kids, because we talked about it all week. This is how we're made right now. This is what's going to give us the ability to win, and here's what comes off of it."

After losing his starting job and watching an entire game from the sideline, Watson said he was impressed with the way Lee maintained a positive attitude while the staff gave freshman quarterback Cody Green a chance to show what he could do.

It might not have been the ideal way to do it, but one thing is for sure in the wake of Saturday's win - the offense is Lee's from here on out.

"He was Cody's biggest fan whenever Cody had a chance to play, and Cody's his now," Watson said. "They're great friends, they understand the position. They both understand that they're new at the position, so they rallied behind each other and they really helped each other out. Zac was awesome with Cody, and Cody is awesome with Zac. I couldn't be any prouder of two guys.

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